All is set for the 10th edition of Bongo Star

Friday September 27 2019


By Salome Gregory

It’s ‘lights, camera, action’ as Bongo Star Search (BSS) returns for a 10th year. The journey that started a decade ago unleashed some of the talents we see today in Bongo Flava.

In its 10-year existence, BSS is credited for giving a platform to raw talents that were looking for ways to penetrate the tough showbiz market.

Though the level of stardom reached by past winners differs, some of the most notable acts include the likes of Kala Jeremiah, Peter Msechu, Walter Chilambo, who are some of the most prominent acts from the talent show.

As auditions kick off today in Arusha, this year BSS has added one more region to its roster. That region is the capital Dodoma. This makes the list of regions the show will conduct auditions to reach five: Arusha, Dodoma, Mwanza Mbeya and Dar es Salaam.

Hundreds of individuals, at times even groups with talents, sign up to showcase what they got in front of judges and the audience watching on television back at home. This is their time to shine, hoping to be given the nod to progress to the next phase. Finals normally take place in Dar, with the eventual winner being a warded a record deal and cash prize.

Speaking to The Beat, Ritha Paulsen, the shows founder and director, says this year’s season, which starts in Arusha will see the team of judges camp there for two days looking for the top cream of talents in the region. The trademark of the show, which weeds out those who don’t qualify, is set to have an impact in the bongo music scene.


In front of the press in Dar es Salaam recently, Paulsen expressed her delight for having another go at identifying new talent in music. The show will be aired through Star Times.

Zamaradi Nzowa, Content Manager at Star Times Tanzania, says this year there will be changes on how the show is broadcast on ST Swahili channel. “The shows will be divided into two categories namely: highlights and the entire show itself,” she explained.

Haji Ramadhan, the 2011 winner of BSS says it took him a lot of trial and error being finally making it in the auditions, to eventually winning the grand prize. He advises those aspiring to make it in the talent show to not hold back their talent.

While most who sign up for auditions are Tanzanians living in penury, the show does provide them with an opportunity to uplift their livelihoods by showcasing their talents to the entire nation. Ramadhan confesses he used to earn a meagre Sh3,000-5,000 as a carpenter daily, but after showing the world his talents and going on to win the big prize, he was able to uplift his life status.

“Apart from the money I got as a winner, the network I created during and after the competition enabled me to generate more income from different deals,” says Ramadhan.

In a bid to target the youth, this year’s edition sees the participation of Tanzania Commission for Aids (Tacaids).

According to the director of the organization Jumammne Issayo, they [Tacaids] have decided to take part in the talent search show as a way of reaching the youth and other citizens in different regions where the show will unfold.

Their main aim for participation is to sensitize society, mostly youth, to test for HIV/Aids. He says it’s important for people to enjoy the fruits of their labour in a healthy state, having conscious on one’s health is a step in the right direction to maximizing your true talent.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this year’s BSS is the change that has happened on the judges’ panel. This year, the controversial judge Salama Jabir will not be a part of the show due to other engagements. However, there have been two repalcements in her position: well-known bongo flava artistes who’ve been in the industry for years.

First is Judith Wambura a.k.a. Lady Jaydee, a songstress who’s been in the music industry for decades and will now serve as a judge on the show. This year BSS will also see the services of Abdul Sykes a.k.a. Dully Sykes on its judges panel. Dully Sykes is a celebrated name in the music industry having stayed on top of charts for many years and still releasing hit songs to date.

The other two judges are Madam Ritha herself and Master Jay who reprises the role he has held since the show’s inception ten years ago.

A part form the new faces on the judges panel, another household name in the entertainment industry will also be a part of the show as a host. This is comedian Idris Sultan. The 2014 Big Brother Africa winner will be live to anchor the show as the judges do their work behind the desk.